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Commitment to female talent for global health: African women as agents of change in research

24 May 2024 - 10:59

In the striking canvas of research and the academic world, the brushes of gender equality not only paint a picture of justice, but also sculpt the essence of knowledge. On the occasion of World Africa Day on 25 May, it is essential to recognise the fundamental role of African women in research and the impact of investing in their potential.

Training African women to engage in research is not only breaking glass ceilings, but also removing the obstacles that perpetuate cultural norms that limit access to education, perpetuate institutional prejudices and undermine women’s contributions. Let's imagine the symphonies of knowledge that remain unheard, when the colors of understanding that remain unstudied are left out half of our intellectual workforce.

Investing in African female researchers is not only balancing the balance, but also filling the gap of ignorance and research gaps that fill our understanding of African communities. Their voices echo the wisdom of centuries, the wisdom rooted in local knowledge and experiences, and offer visions that textbooks could never convey on their own.

Faced with the disgrace, many African female researchers have appeared as exhibitors of resistance and decision, and their stories are forever included in the books of history. From innovation labs to areas of social change, they inspire generations to come and show that there are endless possibilities where there is passion.

On the occasion of World Africa Day, which will take place on 25 May, it is essential to recognise the fundamental role of African women in research and the impact of investing in their potential

However, the path of female researchers in Africa is not only a task to be accomplished, but through the participation and collaboration of the entire community. By bridges between academia and local communities, research becomes a bridge to change, amplifying silenced voices for a long time and responding to people’s urgent needs.

However, for African female researchers to move forward, they need more than just encouragement, they need a support structure: investment in research infrastructures, funding, mentoring and the possibilities to establish relationships to work their talent and to match the path to future discoveries.

It should also reflect the diversity that embraces the leadership layer of the research community. Greater representation of African women in leadership positions is not only to eliminate stereotypes, but to harness the potential of all approaches to drive innovation, promote inclusion and develop research programmes that meet common needs.

While we welcome the achievements and successes of women African researchers, who are renowned researchers, such as Mwele Ntuli Malecela, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Wangari Muta Maathai or Wendy Okolo, or many other less well-known, we do not limit ourselves to applauding their merits nor accepting the effect of their contributions. Every discovery, every step forward, is testimony to their unbreakable commitment to the advancement of knowledge, the drive for social change and the improvement of people's lives, not only in Africa, but throughout the world.

According to an African proverb, "when you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation." We therefore respond to the call to strengthen African women in research, which in doing so we strengthen the whole community, nations and the world in general.

Gloria Dada, PhD in Biochemistry.

Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria (Nigeria) and beneficiary of the "Scholarships for All" programme of the Anesvad Foundation.

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